By DINESH RAMDE
MILWAUKEE (AP) — A Marshfield man who planned to kill abortion providers in Madison this week was thwarted on the eve of the intended attack when his gun accidentally fired in a motel room, leading to his arrest for reckless endangerment, according to a federal complaint filed Thursday.
Ralph Lang, 63, confessed his intentions to investigators, saying his goal was “to lay out abortionists because they are killing babies,” the complaint said.
He was charged with attempting to injure or intimidate a person who provides reproductive health services. He was scheduled for an initial appearance Friday.
Online court records did not list an attorney for Lang on Thursday. A message left at the federal public defender’s office in Madison was not immediately returned.
The FBI assisted in the investigation. When asked whether Lang was acting alone or as part of a larger plan, FBI spokesman Leonard Peace said he couldn’t comment because the investigation was continuing.
Lang had a history of targeting Planned Parenthood buildings. Court documents said he was arrested in 2007 outside a Madison branch, telling officers that everyone in the building deserved to be executed and that police were failing in their jobs by not carrying out the executions.
He told authorities he bought the .38 caliber gun about two years after his arrest “to help end abortion.”
He brought the gun to the Madison clinic last week but didn’t shoot anyone because he was having spiritual struggles, the complaint said.
Lang returned Wednesday afternoon with the gun and about 35 bullets. He checked into a motel room, then drove by the Planned Parenthood clinic to see if anyone was standing outside, authorities said. Lang told investigators his plan was to return when it opened Thursday morning.
“What was I going to do? Take a gun, drop the abortionist” with a shot to the head, he told police. When asked if he meant he was going to kill the abortionist he said, “yah, stop them from killing other people and other babies.”
Investigators asked if he meant to shoot only the doctor or kill the nurses as well. Lang said he wished he could “line them all up in a row, get a machine gun and mow them all down,” the complaint said.
The telephone system at the clinic disconnected without accepting a message Thursday.
The incident came one week after the state’s Republican-controlled budget committee voted to disallow abortion providers or affiliates from receiving a state grant targeted for women’s health programs.
The move would mean a loss of $1 million a year in state and federal money that currently goes to Planned Parenthood, but it wouldn’t entirely cut all the money for the organization.
Planned Parenthood and Democratic supporters said the move would leave many women without preventative care leading to an increase in unintended pregnancies, the spread of sexually transmitted diseases, undetected cancers and poorer health for infants and children.
A message with Wisconsin Right to Life, a group that applauded last week’s committee decision, wasn’t immediately returned.
Police responded to Lang’s motel room late Wednesday evening after Lang went to the front desk and told the clerk he had accidentally fired a round through his door into the room across the hallway, and he was worried it may have hit someone.
Lang told an officer he was loading a magazine into his handgun and it went off. He said he didn’t know a round was in the chamber and he didn’t know how it fired.
The room across the hallway was rented but wasn’t occupied at the time. No one was injured.
Dinesh Ramde can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.